CAR_Public/060131.mbx             C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

            Tuesday, January 31, 2006, Vol. 8, No. 22

                           Headlines

1ST SOURCE: Sprint Nextel Complains of Fraudulent Marketing
AMERIQUEST MORTGAGE: Settles Predatory Practices Suit for $325M
ARKANSAS: Thousands Turn Down Tax Refunds from Amendment 59 Suit
CALIFORNIA: Bill Exempts Special Education Students from Exam
CANADA: To Appeal $4.6B Interest on War Veterans Trust Funds

CANADIAN PACIFIC: Jury Seated for MN Suits Over 2002 Derailment
CIRCUIT CITY: Court Affirms Arbitration Clause in "Gentry" Case
CUNARD LAW: QM2 Passengers Withdraw Proposed Lawsuit
DRESDNER KLEINWORT: Wants British Banker's Suit Dismissed
FARMERS GROUP: State, Firm Ask for Full Bench in "Lubin" Appeal

FLORIDA: Testimonies over Fire-Rescue Fee Settlement Conflicting
FORD MOTOR: Ordered to Pay Plaintiff $29M for Tire Failure
H&R BLOCK: Court Grants Partial Summary Judgment in RAL Suit
ILLINOIS: Judge Praises New Witness Policy, Amidst Suit V. CPD
ILLINOIS: Judge Wants Claims Sorted out in Moldy Apartment Case

MASSACHUSETTS: Poor Children's Health Benefits Ruled Inadequate
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Female Inmates File Suit V. DOC, Former Officer
NEW YORK: Prisoners File Civil Rights Suit For Denied Parole
OCWEN FINANCIAL: May Appeal TX Ruling, Amidst Litigation Wave
OHIO: Summary Judgment Requested on Sferra Speed-Camera Lawsuit

OHIO: Judge Sides with Plaintiff in Speed-Camera Lawsuit
OREGON: Public Service Retirees Deny State Overpays into Pension
ORTHO-MCNEIL: Facing New Lawsuit over Contraceptive Patch
PENNSYLVANIA: Judge Rules V. Suit Waivers in Adhesion Contracts
PFIZER, INC.: IN Viagra Suit Likely to Lose Certification

ST. PAUL: Executive Testifies, Says Firm Didn't Cheat WV Doctors
TAKE-TWO INTERACTIVE: Sued for Selling Pornographic Video Games
TCI INVESTMENT: Canadian Men Deny Guilt in Investing Club Suit
TELLABS INC.: IL Appeals Court Reinstates Shareholders' Lawsuit
TENNESSEE: Teamsters Demand Audit of Officers' Pension Plan

UNITED HEALTHCARE: Insurer/Health Provider Dispute Yields Suit
WAL-MART STORES: Plaintiffs Seek Consolidation of Six Lawsuits

                New Securities Fraud Cases

AMKOR TECHNOLOGY: Schiffrin & Barroway Files Fraud Suit in PA
IMPAC MORTGAGE: Lerach Coughlin Files Securities Fraud Suit

                        *********


1ST SOURCE: Sprint Nextel Complains of Fraudulent Marketing
-----------------------------------------------------------
Sprint Nextel Corp. filed a lawsuit against the parent company
of four online data brokers that use illegal and deceptive
practices to obtain and sell wireless customer call detail
records.  Sprint Nextel states within the Complaint that 1st
Source Information Specialists Inc., parent company of
http://www.locatecell.com,http://www.celltolls.com,
http://www.datafind.organd http://www.peoplesearchamerica.com,
employs fraudulent tactics, such as posing as customers seeking
information about their own accounts, to access cell phone logs
and phone numbers.

In the suit filed in Florida, Sprint Nextel said the schemes
conducted by these fraudulent online services invade the privacy
of Sprint Nextel's customers.  Sprint Nextel has requested both
temporary and permanent injunctions against 1st Source
Information Specialists Inc.

"Protection of confidential customer information is our number
one priority and we are taking aggressive action to ensure that
any threat to privacy is eliminated immediately," said Kent
Nakamura, vice president for telecom management and chief
privacy officer for Sprint Nextel.  "1st Source Information
Specialists continues to display egregious disregard for
privacy, and previous industry-driven actions do not appear to
have deterred their illegal activities.  We can assure our
customers that we will make every effort to put these services
out of business."

To further demonstrate its commitment to protecting consumer
privacy, Sprint Nextel is supporting federal legislation that
seeks to increase criminal and/or civil penalties against third
party companies that fraudulently seek to obtain, sell or
distribute customer records.  In particular, Sprint Nextel hails
legislation crafted by senators Charles Schumer of New York,
Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Bill Nelson of Florida for its
provisions that make it illegal to obtain telephone customer
records, and that stiffen prison sentences and fines for those
companies fraudulently selling information.  Sprint Nextel looks
forward to working with these senators and other members of
Congress to pass the legislation that best protects consumers
and ends this fraudulent practice.

In addition to launching a legal assault on these illegal
activities, Sprint Nextel's corporate security and customer care
teams employ safeguards to protect confidential customer
information from unauthorized access.  Sprint Nextel customer
service agents have been made aware of the fraudulent tactics
used by online data brokers, and they are trained to follow
detailed authentication procedures when responding to customer
inquiries.  Sprint Nextel's security practices were validated in
2005 when the company was awarded the "Best Practice in Security
for Governance" by the Aberdeen Group.

Sprint Nextel strongly encourages its customers to take
precautions to protect themselves.  In particular, Sprint Nextel
recommends that customers regularly change passwords used to
access account information on the Sprint.com web site or when
calling customer care, and select unique passwords to access
voicemail messages on Sprint phones.  

Sprint Nextel on the Net: http://www.sprint.com/mr;Investor  
Relations: Kurt Fawkes, Phone: 800-259-3755; E-mail:
investor.relations@sprint.com.


AMERIQUEST MORTGAGE: Settles Predatory Practices Suit for $325M
---------------------------------------------------------------
Subprime lender Ameriquest Mortgage Co. must shell out
approximately $325 million under a consumer protection
settlement with 49 states that accused it of predatory
practices, The Baltimore Sun reports.

The Company, a subsidiary of ACC Capital Holdings Corp. in
Orange, California, also agreed to revise its lending practices
under the settlement, which regulators across the country
applauded and hailed as the second largest ever on both state
and federal levels.  The largest was Household International
Inc.'s $484 million predatory lending practices settlement in
2002, which involved the state of Maryland.

According to Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., the
Company was "taking advantage of people who were in need of
refinancing or consolidating debt.  They certainly didn't treat
them the way they should have been treated."  He adds that
consumers "got further in debt in some cases."

The fast-growing subprime lending industry targets people who,
for one reason or another, don't qualify for traditional loans
and charges them higher interest rates.  Typically, the loans
are then resold on the secondary market.

The settlement resolves a multi-state, two-year probe of Company
practices from January 1999 until the end of last year.  It
includes loans made in the District of Columbia and all states
except Virginia, where the Company didn't conduct business.  

State regulators accused the Company of a long list of practices
that harmed consumers.  The company culture was to "sell, sell,
sell," Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said in a telephone
conference with reporters.

Company employees routinely misled consumers about interest
rates, discount points and prepayment penalties and promised
loan terms that they failed to deliver, regulators said.  They
also said that the employees inflated home appraisals and
borrowers' incomes so consumers could qualify for mortgage
loans.  In some cases, the company charged consumers higher fees
and interest rates than others in similar financial situations.

Though the Company said it regretted any lapses by employees, it
did not admit any wrongdoing.  According to Aseem Mital, chief
executive officer of ACC Capital Holdings, "We've always had
zero tolerance for inappropriate practices."  He expounds,
"Where we've found mistakes, we've worked hard to fix them.
We're now putting in place even more stringent standards and
institutional safeguards to ensure that our practices meet or
exceed our customers' expectations."

The terms of the settlement stipulates that $295 million will go
toward consumer restitution and $30 million will cover the
states' legal fees and other costs associated with the case.  
The consumer restitution will be divided into two pots.

The first, totaling $175 million, will go to consumers who paid
higher fees and interest rates between January 1999 and April
2003, when the company changed its pricing model, Iowa's
Attorney General said.  Consumers who took out 240,000 loans
will receive at least $600 each.

The remaining $120 million will go to the states to compensate
consumers who may have been harmed by other Company practices
from 1999 through 2005.  In the national level, Mr. Miller
indicates that as many as 485,000 loans are affected.  

Mr. Curran told The Baltimore Sun that state officials would
contact consumers entitled to restitution.  The process though
may take several months.

Judges in the states must approve the settlement.  By accepting
the restitution from the settlement, consumers will waive their
right to any private class action lawsuit, according to
regulators.

The Company agreed to make other changes, including giving
borrowers a clear one-page description of loan terms, having
borrowers sign a statement that the income information they gave
the Company is correct and requiring staffers to follow a script
to assure accuracy.  It also agreed to independent monitoring of
its compliance with the settlement.


ARKANSAS: Thousands Turn Down Tax Refunds from Amendment 59 Suit
----------------------------------------------------------------
Approximately 12,000 people turned down a tax refund mandated by
a class-action lawsuit, keeping the Bentonville School District
from paying out more than $500,000, The Northwest Arkansas' News
Source reported.

Members of the Bentonville School Board welcomed board attorney
George Spence's update on the Amendment 59 lawsuit.  Previously,
the school district anticipated paying a maximum of nearly $2
million to settle the case.

Before the lawsuit was settled, a large number of school-
district patrons signed forms that stated the person paid taxes
voluntarily and, therefore, did not want a refund.  Because the
form was printed on green paper, it became known as the green
form.

A total of 11,939 checks were not issued, because taxpayers
submitted green forms, according to Mr. Spence.  That in turn
resulted in the reduced liability of $534,681.15.

The reduced liability could increase because many who signed
green forms inadvertently received checks.  This situation, Mr.
Spence told the board, was brought on by three factors:

     (1) the large number of green forms;

     (2) the large number of settlement checks; and

     (3) the limitations of the computer system and the process.

All the refund checks came with an attached statement that told
the recipient to either not cash the check or send it back to
the school district if the recipient did not wish to receive a
refund.

The school district's budget for its maximum known liability was
$1.998 million.  The $534,681.15 reduced the liability to well
below $1.5 million.  The checks that were issued will expire in
six months, so the district should have a final number in July,
according to Mr. Spence.  

Filed in 1997, the eight-year-old Benton County Amendment 59
property tax lawsuit, a complex case expected to address the
question of whether taxes are paid correctly and voluntarily,
alleges that property owners in Benton County were overtaxed.   
Dale Evans, one of the attorneys who filed it previously told
The Morning News that as soon as it was filed, property taxes in
the county were considered "paid under protest" -- allowing them
to be questioned in court, an earlier Class Action Reporter
story (June 29, 2005) reported.

Taxes paid before then traditionally could not be challenged,
however attorneys are protesting that fact, and the State
Supreme Court in 2000 said they can pursue the argument that
taxpayers had no way of knowing the assessments were illegal, an
earlier Class Action Reporter story (June 29, 2005) reported.

Mr. Evans and Kent Hirsch, both of whom filed the lawsuit back
in 1997 on behalf of taxpayers, claim local school districts and
governments violated Amendment 59 to the Arkansas Constitution
by over-collecting property taxes for several years in the
1990s.  Amendment 59 limits the increase in property tax revenue
from reappraisals to 10 percent per year for each taxing entity
such as a school district or city.  When a taxing entity's
revenue collection would increase more than 10 percent because
of property reappraisal, Amendment 59 triggers a mileage
rollback though the limit does not apply to increases resulting
from new construction or improvements, an earlier Class Action
Reporter story (June 29, 2005) reports.

All the government entities involved the case settled the matter
rather than go through a trial.  The entities include the cities
of Rogers and Lowell, NorthWest Arkansas Community College and
school districts in Rogers, Bentonville, Siloam Springs and
Gravette.


CALIFORNIA: Bill Exempts Special Education Students from Exam
-------------------------------------------------------------
A bill that would exempt this year's special education seniors
from the California High School Exit Examination is expected to
clear the state Legislature and be signed by Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger within a month, The Lodi News-Sentinel reports.

The bill is a response to a class-action lawsuit filed in 2002,
which alleges unfairness in the state requirement that students
with learning disabilities have to pass the test to get a
diploma.  

It is the first year that California high school seniors will
not get a diploma without passing the exit exam.  State
education officials recently indicated no intention to drop the
rule.  On the special education front, though, state officials
and legislators tried to answer to the lawsuit, filed by
Oakland-based Disability Right Advocates, to pre-empt the Feb. 7
court hearing where a judge might hand out an injunction on the
exit-exam requirement for students with disabilities.

Written by Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles,
and heading to the Assembly floor soon, the bill is backed by
both the Legislature and the governor, according to State
Superintendent Jack O'Connell.  He told The Lodi News-Sentinel,
"This bill ...will uphold the integrity of the California High
School Exit Exam and at the same time, give our schools more
time to provide special education students with the skills
necessary to pass the exam."

About 20,000 special education students statewide hadn't passed
the exam by the end of last year, state education officials say.

Though sparing this year's students from having to pass the
test, the bill would require them to enroll in remedial classes
and take the exam at least twice after 10th grade, including
once in 12th grade to qualify for the diploma.  District
officials told The Lodi News-Sentinel that twenty-seven special
education Tracy Unified School District seniors, who failed one
or both subjects of the exam, could benefit from the bill if
they meet other course requirements.  These students received
remedial instruction and took the exam at least twice.

Of the school district's 125 special education seniors this
year, about half of them study for a diploma, while the rest
work toward a certificate based on individualized study plans,
said Hal Kushins, director of Curriculum and Special Projects.

The bill is a reincarnation of legislation introduced in 2005
based on a settlement between Disability Rights Advocates and
state officials.  However, last year the Legislature expanded
the one-year exemption to include students who will graduate in
2006 and 2007, which the governor vetoed.

This year, the introduction of the bill is by no means the end
of the fight for Disability Rights Advocates, according to
Melissa Kasnitz, managing attorney for the nonprofit law center.  
Her group was consulted when the bill was written.  And while
the group supports the bill, according to her, the legislation
wouldn't address the problems facing special education seniors
of 2007 and beyond.

The suit will continue until "the state meets the burden that
the high school exit exam is fair," Ms. Kasnitz tells The Lodi
News-Sentinel.  She explains that special education students are
at a disadvantage since they are not taught the materials tested
by the exam and they get a disproportionately high number of
teachers without credentials.

Though the trial date for the case, "Chapman v. California
Department of Education," was not yet scheduled, the law center
recently filed a motion with an Alameda Superior Court judge to
halt the state's high school diploma policy for 2006.

The suit was filed on behalf of Juleus Chapman, who was a 13-
year-old special education student at the Fremont Unified School
District's Hopkins Junior High School in 2001.  He had a
modified curriculum that allowed him to use a laptop and a
calculator during regular tests.  Mr. Chapman claimed in his
suit that the school district officials told him he would not be
able to use any special accommodations on the high school exit
exam, a move protested by disability advocates.


CANADA: To Appeal $4.6B Interest on War Veterans Trust Funds
------------------------------------------------------------
The Federal Government will appeal a ruling of the Ontario
Superior Court that would require payment of $4.6 billion
interest on funds administered on behalf of mentally-incompetent
war veterans residing in Veterans Affairs institutions.

On Dec. 29, 2005 Mr. Justice John Brokenshire overturned a
previous finding that the Department of Veterans Affairs was not
liable for payment of interest on accounts for which the Federal
Government had custodial care of monies being held for mentally-
incompetent patients in government-sponsored institutional beds.

National Council of Veteran Associations (55 member groups), an
'umbrella group' which speaks for the majority of war veterans,
has publicly opposed the judgment.  According to a statement by
NCVA Chairman Cliff Chadderton, its stand has been supported by
Dominion Command of the Royal Canadian Legion.

Mr. Chadderton, a staunch advocate for veterans, wrote to the
Minister of Veterans Affairs last July proposing that the
Government establish a committee to adjudicate any justifiable
claims on behalf of veterans or their widows.  He said that no
reply had been received from the Minister.

Transcript of an interview with Cliff Chadderton aired on
Hamilton Community: http://ResearchArchives.com/t/s?4c3.


CANADIAN PACIFIC: Jury Seated for MN Suits Over 2002 Derailment
---------------------------------------------------------------
A jury was seated in Minneapolis, Minnesota to hear the first
cases to go to trial from a January 2002 derailment and chemical
spill at Minot, North Dakota involving a Canadian Pacific
Railway train, The Associated Press reports.

The jury of nine men and three women was chosen, according to
Fargo attorney Mike Miller, who is representing two of the three
plaintiffs.  Opening statements are to begin on February 1.  Mr.
Miller told the Associated Press, "We'll finally get ... some
evidence presented to a jury."

Six cases have been settled out of court.  The settlements
included a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the widow of John
Grabinger, 38, who died while trying to escape the anhydrous
ammonia cloud released by the train wreck.  Terms of those
settlements have not been released.  The Company has also
declined to discuss the lawsuits.

The trial is being held in Minneapolis because it is the U.S.
headquarters of Canadian Pacific, which is based in Calgary,
Alberta.  The Company admitted liability in the current round of
lawsuits.  

Mr. Miller told The Associated Press that jurors will be asked
to determine the amount of damages.  Jurors range in age from
their late 20s to early 60s.  "It's a very well-rounded, across-
the-board jury," according to him.  Mr. Miller expects the trial
to last three weeks.

Thirty-one cars on the 112-car Canadian Pacific train derailed
on the west edge of Minot and five broke open early on the
morning of January 18, 2002.  Federal investigators described
the tank car ruptures as "catastrophic."  The National
Transportation Safety Board said the wreck was caused by
inadequate track maintenance and inspections, a conclusion
disputed by Canadian Pacific, an earlier Class Action Reporter
story (July 11, 2005) reported.

Since the derailment, about 450 lawsuits in Minnesota state
court and North Dakota are pending against Canadian Pacific.  
The suits filed in Minneapolis were grouped together to help
them move through the courts.  Mr. Miller represents nearly
1,000 people in a separate federal case in North Dakota, an
earlier Class Action Reporter story (Jan. 10, 2006) reports.

U.S. District Judge Dan Hovland in Bismarck has granted that
case class action status, though the number of people who might
be included has not yet been determined.  Judge Hovland though
has yet to rule on several motions, including one by Canadian
Pacific to dismiss all the North Dakota claims and one by Mr.
Miller seeking punitive damages.


CIRCUIT CITY: Court Affirms Arbitration Clause in "Gentry" Case
---------------------------------------------------------------
A California Court of Appeal affirmed an arbitration clause in
an employment agreement that precludes the use of class actions
to resolve disputes, The Metropolitan News-Enterprise reports.

Writing for the Div. Five panel, Justice Orville Armstrong,
pointed out that the dispute resolution program offered by
Circuit City Stores, Inc. to its "associates" in 1995 was not
unconscionable, since it was voluntary and did not deter
employees from obtaining significant remedies for any illegal
employment practices.  Essentially, the panel denied a writ
petition brought by Robert Gentry, who sued Circuit City in
2002, claiming that he and other customer service managers were
unlawfully classified as executives and denied overtime pay.

The Company, which has been involved in numerous state and
federal litigation over its dispute resolution program, moved to
compel arbitration under the 1995 agreement.  It presented
evidence that Mr. Gentry was presented with a packet explaining
the program, which included an advisory allowing the employee to
opt out of the program within 30 days.

Mr. Gentry responded that the purported agreement to arbitrate
was unconscionable for a number of reasons, including the
inclusion of the class action waiver.  Then-Los Angeles Superior
Court Judge Thomas L. Willhite Jr. granted the petition, citing
"Discover Bank v. Superior Court (2003) 105 Cal.App.4th 326,"
which held that where there is a valid arbitration clause,
governed by the Federal Arbitration Act, the trial court could
not apply state substantive law to strike a class action waiver
from the arbitration agreement.

The Court of Appeal originally denied Mr. Gentry's writ
petition, however the Supreme Court granted review pending the
outcome of its review of "Discover Bank."  After the it reversed
the Court of Appeal in that case, it sent Mr. Gentry's case back
to the Court of Appeal for a decision on the merits.

In the ruling, Justice Armstrong distinguished the two cases,
noting that "Discover Bank" was a consumer class action
challenging an agreement that the bank purported to form by
mailing it to customers with in a "bill stuffer" that the
average customer was unlikely to read, which customers could not
reject other than by canceling their accounts, and which was
held unconscionable, in part, because the denial of a class
action remedy effectively insulated the bank from liability
because no individual customer would have a large enough claim
to justify an action.

In contrast, Justice Armstrong cited two rulings of the Ninth
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals holding that Circuit City's 1995
agreement was not unconscionable due to the existence of the
opt-out provision.  In rejecting Mr. Gentry's claim that his
employer attempted to "sucker unsophisticated employees into not
opting out," the justice pointed out that the explanation given
to the employees was straightforward, advising them that
arbitration had both advantages, such as speed and cost-
effectiveness, as well as disadvantages, such as lack of jury
trial and limited discovery.  

Nor, Justice Armstrong went on to say, did the denial of a class
action remedy insulate Circuit City from liability, since Mr.
Gentry could still gain substantial damages and penalties if he
can prove his claims.

Attorneys on appeal were Matthew Righetti and John Glugosk of
Righetti & Wynne, P.C., and Ellen Lake for Mr. Gentry and Rex
Darrell Berry and Scott M. Plamondon of Berry & Block, LLP, for
Circuit City.  The case is styled, "Gentry v. Superior Court
(Circuit City Stores, Inc.), B169805."


CUNARD LAW: QM2 Passengers Withdraw Proposed Lawsuit
----------------------------------------------------
Capital Law, the firm representing passengers of cruise line
Queen Mary 2, is dropping a planned class action against owner
Cunard Line Ltd., according to BBC News.  The passengers will be
offered a full refund, including flight transfers as a result of
the ship's previous cancellation of three port stops.  

The Queen Mary 2 skipped stops in the Caribbean islands of St.
Kitts and Barbados, and Salvador in Brazil after its propeller
was damaged upon leaving Florida.  It docked at Rio de Janeiro
on Friday morning (Class Action Reporter, Jan. 27, 2006).


DRESDNER KLEINWORT: Wants British Banker's Suit Dismissed
---------------------------------------------------------
Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein Securities, LLC applied in New
York for the dismissal of London-based banker Katherine Smith's
case, according to Times Online.  Dresdner said she should bring
her case separately under British law.

Earlier this month, six female employees of Dresdner Kleinwort
Wasserstein Securities, LLC, initiated a $1.4 billion lawsuit in
the U.S. claiming that the Company discriminates against women,
preventing advancement and fair treatment, according to The Cay
Compass (Class Action Reporter, Jan. 11, 2006).  The suit was
filed in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

The bank also asked the court to drop allegations of scandalous
activities against a former executive alleged in the lawsuit,
saying the complaint is irrelevant because none of the
plaintiffs claim to be a victim of sexual harassment.  It
accuses the women of courting publicity for revealing their case
to the media before the bank received the documents.

Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein on the Net: http://www.drkw.com/.


FARMERS GROUP: State, Firm Ask for Full Bench in "Lubin" Appeal
---------------------------------------------------------------
Even before the Texas Supreme Court decides to take up a dispute
over a landmark insurance settlement, the parties involved are
already asking for a full bench of justices to hear their case,
The Texas Lawyer reports.

On January 20, the state and Farmers Group Inc. filed a joint
motion in the Texas Supreme Court, asking that Gov. Rick Perry
appoint a temporary justice to hear the appeal in a case
involving a $117 million settlement that Texas reached with the
insurer in 2002.

The high court requested briefing on the merits but has not
granted review in "Farmers Group Inc., et al. v. Jan Lubin, et
al.," a class-action lawsuit brought by the state on behalf of
insurance policyholders.  Company policyholders, including Ms.
Lubin, challenge the class certification.

Justice Don Willett, Gov. Perry's most recent appointee to the
Supreme Court, recused himself from considering "Lubin" on Dec.
1, 2005.  Policyholders challenging the settlement sought to
recuse him, because he formerly served as chief legal counsel to
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, whose office represents both
the state and the Texas Department of Insurance in the case.   
Justice Willett's recusal leaves the high court with eight
justices to consider whether to review the case.

The petitioners requested the appointment of another justice
under Texas Government Code Section 22.005.  Section 22.005,
which allow, but does not require, the Supreme Court's chief
justice to certify to the governor that one or more justices of
the court have recused themselves from a case.  If the chief
justice takes that step, the governor must make the appointment
immediately under the statute.

An attorney for one of the policyholders involved in the case
indicated that another justice isn't needed.  Joe Longley, an
Austin attorney who represents Ms. Lubin told The Texas Lawyer,
"The court functions all the time with eight justices. They
don't change their rules because they have eight justices."

David Mattack, the assistant attorney general handling the case,
and Gerard Pecht, a partner in Houston's Fulbright & Jaworski
and lead counsel for the Company, did not immediately return
telephone calls seeking comment.

Tom Phillips, former chief justice of the Supreme Court, says
the court asks the governor to appoint a temporary justice to
hear a case about once a year.  He points out that the court has
asked for such temporary appointments even in cases, which, like
"Lubin," the court has not yet granted the petition for review.  
At least four justices though must vote to consider a case.  He
reiterates, "I know that it has happened when we had three votes
to grant and a 7 to 8-member court."

Recently, the court heard an important case with only eight
justices.  Justice Willett, who joined the Supreme Court in
August 2005, recused himself from the school finance case,
"Shirley Neeley, et al. v. West Orange-Cove Consolidated
Independent School District, et al."  Mr. Longley notes that the
state did not file a motion seeking the appointment of another
justice in that case, in which the court ruled the state's
school finance system unconstitutional.

In their Jan. 20 motion, the petitioners in the "Lubin" case
assert that the questions presented in it involve the attorney
general's authority to protect the insureds of Texas.

The state sued the Company in August 2002, alleging unfair and
discriminatory practices in its homeowners' insurance lines.   
Gov. Perry, who was running for re-election at the time, joined
then-state Attorney General John Cornyn in announcing the suit.

The state reached a global settlement with the Company in
November 2002, after the insurer threatened to pull out of the
Texas home insurance market.  As part of the settlement, the
state amended its pleadings to transform the suit into a class
action covering claims that had or could be made by Company
homeowners and automobile insurance policyholders.

Ms. Lubin and other policyholders intervened in the case to
challenge the settlement.  But Judge Scott Jenkins, of Austin's
53rd District Court, certified the class in the state's suit.

In a 2-0 decision, the 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin overturned
the class certification in January 2005.  Justice David Puryear,
author of the 3rd Court's opinion, wrote that Texas Insurance
Code Article 21.21 did not grant the attorney general "parens
patriae" authority to bring the class action.  The state and
Farmers petitioned the Supreme Court to review the 3rd Court's
decision.


FLORIDA: Testimonies over Fire-Rescue Fee Settlement Conflicting
----------------------------------------------------------------
Miami city leaders' sworn testimony regarding the controversial
$7 million settlement of the fire-rescue fee is deemed
contradictory, according to The Miami Herald.

As court hearings resume on the settlement that the city agreed
to in 2004, taxpayers are being infuriated by city leaders'
conflicting accounts of how it happened.  The settlement, a
response to a class-action lawsuit challenging the city's
unconstitutional fire-rescue fee, gave no money to nearly every
city property owner who had spent hundreds, and in some cases
thousands, of dollars over the years paying an illegal
assessment.

Instead, the millions went to seven people, five of the original
lawsuit plaintiffs and two of the plaintiffs' friends.  The city
argued in court that the deal should be voided, since it made a
colossal mistake in assuming that the money would be split among
Miami's roughly 80,000 property owners.

Only two city officials have taken the witness stand so far,
though many more are expected.  However, some glaring
inconsistencies have surfaced.  Former Assistant City Attorney
Charles Mays testified recently that the settlement was no
accident that the city deliberately left out taxpayers, since it
would save money and that Miami City Manager Joe Arriola was
aware of the plan.  Mr. Arriola could take the stand anytime.  
In sworn depositions he said he thought the $7 million would be
distributed citywide.

Mr. Mays is not the only city official now saying Miami knew
what it was doing all along.  In a Jan. 13 deposition obtained
by The Miami Herald, Deputy Fire Chief Maurice Kemp said, under
oath, that at a legal mediation meeting he attended where he
says the settlement was hashed out, it was made clear to all
that the money would only benefit a handful of people.  The
attorneys for those seven people knew it, according to Mr. Kemp.  
Mr. Mays, who as the city's point man on the lawsuit was also at
the mediation, knew it too, the deputy chief said.

The City agreed in principle to the settlement in May 2004, but
commissioners did not give it final ratification until six
months later.  The City has been accused of using the delay to
let the statute of limitations run out, so that if any taxpayers
found out later they were entitled to a refund, it would be too
late to collect.  Mr. Kemp, in his deposition, confirms this was
the City's motivation for waiting.  Like Mr. Arriola, Mr. Kemp
is expected to testify soon.

In his deposition, Mr. Kemp said he heard Mr. Mays tell Mr.
Arriola that the City needed to hold off on finalizing the
settlement because of the statute of limitations.  Mr. Arriola
said in his deposition that he postponed scheduling a commission
vote since the city wanted to wait for the next year's budget
cycle to begin.

The seven settlement recipients were able to secure payment for
only themselves, because a judge had yet to certify the class-
action status of the suit.

A 2002 Florida Supreme Court decision deemed fees like the
City's illegal since it found property didn't directly benefit
from the emergency medical services the fire fee helped pay for.  
Essentially, you can't give CPR to a building.

Mr. Kemp also said in his deposition that he wasn't sure whether
Mr. Arriola knew the $7 million would go to seven people or the
entire city.  However, on the witness stand, Mr. Mays said that
Mr. Arriola did know.  

The City Manager, in his sworn statements, denied this.  "In my
heart, I believed that this was a class-action suit, and a lot
of people were going to get their money back," Mr. Arriola told
The Miami Herald.

Whether Circuit Judge Peter Lopez invalidates the $7 million
settlement, there is a chance that in the future the courts will
rule that all Miami property owners are entitled to some sort of
refund.  However, the fact that the statutes of limitations may
have run out could lead to homeowners getting significantly less
money certainly less than the amount they paid over the years.


FORD MOTOR: Ordered to Pay Plaintiff $29M for Tire Failure
----------------------------------------------------------
A jury in the 117th District Court, in relation to Case No. 03-
3353-B, Rose Marie Munoz vs. Ford Motor Company, et. Al., Nueces
County, Texas, awarded more than $29 million to Ms. Munoz in the
Firestone Tire/Explorer legal case.  Ms. Munoz is a 22-year-old
woman who was rendered quadriplegic as a result of product
defects in the Ford-designed Explorer, sold as a Mazda Navajo,
and the Firestone tire on the vehicle.

Plaintiffs' counsel, Roger S. Braugh, Jr. and Jason P. Hoelscher
of Sico, White & Braugh, L.L.P., proved through documentary
evidence and Ford corporate representative testimony that the
subject Ford Explorer/Mazda Navajo and left rear Firestone tire
that suffered a tread separation were defective and unreasonably
dangerous as designed.  The jury considered evidence regarding
the defective handling and stability characteristics of the Ford
Explorer/Mazda Navajo.  Based on extensive data presented in
this trial, the phenomenon known as rear axle "skate" is an
inherent problem in the Ford Explorer vehicle, which leads to
the driver's inability to properly control the vehicle upon tire
de-tread.

This is the first case in the nation to be tried against a
vehicle manufacturer for failure to warn about the hidden
dangers of aged tires.  The jury found Ford Motor Company and
Mazda responsible for failing to warn regarding the hazards of
aging tires, a problem that weakens a tire internally with no
visible indications to owners.  

According to automotive owner manuals from Audi, Volkswagen and
other European manufacturers, the automotive industry has been
aware of the tire-aging problem since the late 1980s, but has
largely failed to provide consumer information on the topic.  In
this case, the vehicle in which Rose Munoz was traveling was
using an original spare tire sold with the vehicle by Ford/Mazda
that was ten years old at the time of the accident.  Experts
testified that the decomposition of the aging tire, along with
the Explorer's handling problems, caused the accident and Rose's
injuries.  Furthermore, the jury considered Ford Motor Company's
unique role in designing and developing the recalled Firestone
ATX and Wilderness tires.

"Ford Motor Company should no longer hide its role in the design
of the Firestone tires sold as original equipment on Ford
Explorers and Mazda Navajos," said Roger S. Braugh, Jr. Mr.
Hoelscher added, "This verdict exemplifies the growing concern
regarding Ford's responsibility when a $142.00 fix was not made
on the vehicle, which was producing more than a billion dollars
a year in profits to Ford Motor Company.  The verdict also sends
a strong message to auto manufacturers that consumers deserve to
know now about the serious hazards of tire aging," said Mr.
Braugh.

According to Mr. Hoelscher, Ford could have prevented the
suffering of Rose Munoz and her family by making simple
modifications to the Explorer and providing consumer information
about the hazards of tire aging.  This verdict represents the
first complete Ford/Firestone trial, which has resulted from the
well-publicized defects that were the subject of silent and
public recalls dating back to 1999.

Sico, White & Braugh, L.L.P. (http://www.swbtrial.com):Roger S.  
Braugh, Jr., Phone: 361-653-3300 or 361-728-8700; E-mail:
rbraugh@swbtrial.com; Jason P. Hoelscher, Phone: 361-653-3300 or
361-658-6042; E-mail: jhoelscher@swbtrial.com.


H&R BLOCK: Court Grants Partial Summary Judgment in RAL Suit
------------------------------------------------------------
The United States District Court for the Northern District of
Illinois granted H&R Block, Inc.'s motion for partial summary
judgment in the class action litigation entitled Lynne A.
Carnegie, et al. v. Household International, Inc., H&R Block,
Inc., et al., which was instituted on April 8, 1998.  The
Carnegie litigation pertains to the Company's refund
anticipation loan programs as reported in previous current
reports on Form 8-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and annual
reports on Form 10-K.

In March 2004, the court either dismissed or decertified all of
the plaintiffs' claims in the Carnegie litigation other than
part of one count alleging violations of the racketeering and
conspiracy provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations Act (RICO).  The Company argued in its motion for
summary judgment filed with the court on Sept. 23, 2005, that
claims of class members before April 8, 1994, should be barred
by the RICO four-year statute of limitations and the court
agreed.

The impact of this ruling is to further reduce the size of the
class to an estimated 1.7 million clients served primarily
during tax seasons 1995 and 1996, compared with approximately 17
million clients from 13 tax seasons covered in the initial
plaintiffs' case.  Previously, the court had reduced the size of
the class by upholding arbitration agreements signed by Company
clients starting in 1997.

The trial in this case is currently scheduled to begin May 15,
2006.

According to an Oct. 12, 2005 Class Action Reporter story,
plaintiffs in the RAL Cases alleged, among other things:

     (1) that disclosures in the RAL applications were
         inadequate, misleading and untimely;

     (2) that the RAL interest rates were usurious and
         unconscionable;

     (3) that the Company did not disclose that it would receive
         part of the finance charges paid by the customer for
         such loans;

     (4) that Company breached state laws on credit service
         organizations;

     (5) that the Company committed a breach of contract, unjust
         enrichment, unfair and deceptive acts or practices and
         violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
         Organizations Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices
         Act; and

     (6) that the company owed, and breached, a fiduciary duty
         to its customers in connection with the RAL program.

In many of the RAL Cases, the plaintiffs ask to proceed on
behalf of a class of similarly situated RAL customers, and in
certain instances the courts have allowed the cases to proceed
as class actions.  In other cases, courts have held that
plaintiffs must pursue their claims on an individual basis, and
may not proceed as a class action.  The amounts claimed in the
RAL Cases have been very substantial in some instances (Class
Action Reporter, Oct. 12, 2005).

The Company has successfully defended itself against numerous
RAL Cases, although several of the RAL Cases are still pending.  
Of the RAL Cases that are no longer pending, some were dismissed
on the Company's motions for dismissal or summary judgment and
others were dismissed voluntarily by the plaintiffs after denial
of class certification.  Other cases were settled, with one
settlement resulting in a pretax expense of $43.5 million in
fiscal year 2003 (Class Action Reporter, Oct. 12, 2005).

In March 2004, the court either dismissed or decertified all of
the plaintiffs' claims other than part of one count alleging
violations of the racketeering and conspiracy provisions of the
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.  On May 9,
2005, the parties agreed to a settlement, subject to court
approval.  The settlement agreement provided for the defendants
to pay $110 million in cash and $250 million face value in
freely transferable rebate coupons and all persons who applied
for and obtained a RAL through an H&R Block office or certain
lenders from January 1, 1987 through April 29, 2005 (the
"Carnegie Settlement Class") to release all claims against the
Company regarding RALs or certain services provided in
connection with RALs (Class Action Reporter, Oct. 12, 2005).  

The settlement agreement also specified required business
practices, procedures, disclosures and forms for use in making
RALs and barred members of the Carnegie Settlement Class from
commencing any other claims or actions against us regarding RALs
made pursuant to such practices, procedures, disclosures and
forms.  On May 26, 2005, the court denied approval of the
proposed settlement.  This class action case is scheduled to go
to trial on February 2006 (Class Action Reporter, Oct. 12,
2005).  

The suit was styled "Lynne A. Carnegie, et al. v. Household
International, Inc., H&R Block, Inc., et al., (formerly Joel E.
Zawikowski, et al. v. Beneficial National Bank, H&R Block, Inc.,
Block Financial Corporation, et al.), Case No. 98 C 2178," in
the United States District Court for the Northern District of
Illinois, Eastern Division.  


ILLINOIS: Judge Praises New Witness Policy, Amidst Suit V. CPD
--------------------------------------------------------------
An Illinois federal judge praised a new Chicago Police
Department (CPD) policy that city officials say will protect the
rights of witnesses who choose not to talk with police.

The policy, which took effect recently, requires detectives,
under certain circumstances, to advise witnesses that, "You are
free to leave when you want."  In addition, the new policy also
directs detectives to make sure witnesses who are questioned at
the police station get appropriate food and bathroom breaks.

U.S. District Judge James Holderman told Sheri Mecklenburg,
chief counsel to Chicago Police Supt. Philip Cline, and other
attorneys, "I think it's a terrific advancement.  I appreciate
your efforts on this."  He also said, "I hope this does allow
for a settlement in this matter."

Police officials adopted the policy in the midst of a class-
action lawsuit that alleges police regularly violate the
constitutional rights of witnesses by holding them in interview
rooms for days and not telling them they are free to leave.  The
University of Chicago's MacArthur Justice Center and its Mandel
Legal Aid Clinic filed the suit back in April 2005.  

The suit was brought on behalf of Ramon Ayala, alleging police
picked him up and held him for two days because they believed he
had witnessed a murder.  It contends that Mr. Ayala's sister
contacted lawyers at the center, but that they were not
permitted to see Mr. Ayala or tell him he could leave. The suit
is seeking damages for violation of their constitutional rights.

By law, witnesses in Illinois, unlike crime suspects, can be
denied access to an attorney during police questioning.  In
court testimony in October 2005, former Chief of Detectives
James J. Molloy told the court that even if witnesses are
interviewed in locked rooms, they are free to leave whenever
they like.  But detectives are not required to inform them of
this right, and standard practice has been to discourage
witnesses from leaving, an earlier Class Action Reporter story
(December 16, 2005) reported.

Aside from monetary damages, Mr. Ayala's lawyers had asked Judge
Holderman to order the Police Department to adopt safeguards to
ensure witnesses are not held against their will.  But, police
officials opposed that idea, and instead stepped forward with
their own new policy, which they hoped would satisfy the judge.

Locke Bowman, an attorney at the MacArthur Justice Center, also
said in court the policy was a step in the right direction.  The
policy, signed by Maria Maher, chief of the detective division,
states: "There is no probable cause to seize a person or detain
a person in a police facility solely because the person is a
witness. A witness shall be free to leave."  It also said, "the
witness' reasonable needs for food, water and bathroom
facilities shall be adequately addressed."

Despite those concessions, the policy does still allow
detectives to deny family members access to a witness.  If
necessary to protect the integrity of the investigation, the
policy also allows detectives to temporarily limit a witness'
use of a telephone.  

However, it does instruct detectives to watch for situations in
which witnesses may not believe they are free to leave, based on
factors such as whether the witnesses contacted police or were
contacted by police and driven to the station house in a squad
car.  In cases where a person would not feel free to leave,
detectives are to give an "advisory warning" explaining they may
go if they choose.

The suit is styled, "Ayala v. City Of Chicago et al, Case No.
1:05-cv-01967," filed in the United States District Court for
the Northern District of Illinois under Judge James F. Holderman
with referral to Judge Michael T. Mason.  Representing the
Plaintiff/s are Locke E. Bowman, III of MacArthur Justice
Center, 1111 East 60th St., Chicago, IL 60637, Phone: (773) 702-
0349, E-mail: locke_bowman@law.uchicago.edu; and Craig Benson
Futterman and H. Melissa Mather of Mandel Legal Aid Clinic,
University of Chicago Law School, 6020 South University Ave.,
Chicago, IL 60637, Phone: (312) 702-9611, E-mail:
futterman@uchicago.edu and mmather@uchicago.edu.  Representing
the Defendant/s are, Sara L. Ellis, George John Yamin, Jr.,
Catherine M. Kelly and Mara Stacy Georges of the City of
Chicago, Department of Law - Police Policy Litigation, 30 North
LaSalle St., Suite 900, Chicago, IL 60602, Phone:
(312) 744-6919, (312) 744-9010, (312) 744-1566 and
(312) 744-2002, Fax: (312) 744-6912, E-mail:
sara.ellis@cityofchicago.org, gyamin@cityofchicago.org and
catherine.kelly@cityofchicago.org.


ILLINOIS: Judge Wants Claims Sorted out in Moldy Apartment Case
---------------------------------------------------------------
In a proposed class action suit over moldy apartments in Venice,
Illinois, Madison County Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian wants
plaintiff attorney Lanny Darr to sort out claims against the
owner of the apartments from claims against the manager, The St.
Clair Record reports.

At a Jan. 13 hearing on a defense motion to dismiss the suit,
Judge Matoesian told Mr. Darr to write a new complaint alleging
separate counts against the owner of Bissel Apartments, BA 2003
Limited Partnership, and the manager, Independent Management
Services.

The April 2005 lawsuit was filed on behalf of lead plaintiffs
Kesha Manning and her two minor children plus Claude Taylor
against owners.  Filed by Mr. Darr of the Alton law firm of
Schrempf, Blaine, Kelly & Darr, the suit also identifies
additional plaintiffs who are "similarly situated," an earlier
Class Action Reporter story (Jan. 9, 2006) reports.

The suit specifically alleged that the apartments had mold and
fungal growth penicillium and cladosporiumo on surfaces and
structures of the building that make up the complex located at
1400 Klein Ave.  According to the complaint, the defendants
breached a duty under Illinois law to exercise ordinary care in
the maintenance of the Bissel complex, an earlier Class Action
Reporter story (Jan. 9, 2006) reports.

The suit stipulates that all members of the class are citizens
of Illinois, that no class member is seeking damages in excess
of $75,000 and that the total of all damages does not exceed $5
million.  Those elements would allow the suit to be filed in a
state court.  Under a new law enacted in February 2005, which is
known as the Class Action Fairness Act, class actions involving
defendants from multiple states must be filed in federal courts,
an earlier Class Action Reporter story (April 20, 2005) reports.

The plaintiffs, who claim they have suffered damages in an
unknown amount, are asking the court to certify the claim as a
class action, enter a judgment for compensatory damages to be
determined, and award reasonable attorney fees and court costs
as permitted by law.  Mr. Taylor claims that the apartment's
management failed to protect non-residents from known risks to
safety, health and property.  The complaint though does not
specify if any class members have incurred health problems, an
earlier Class Action Reporter story (Jan. 9, 2006) reports.

Mr. Darr proposed a class action, writing that there were more
than 25 apartments.  Chief Judge Edward Ferguson assigned the
case to Circuit Judge George Moran, but Mr. Darr moved for
substitution, which Judge Moran granted.  The judge had to grant
it, for in Illinois any party in a case can move once for
substitution without cause, provided the judge has not made a
substantial ruling.

The defendants moved in June to dismiss.  Attorney Matthew
Jacober of Clayton, Missouri, argued that Ms. Manning had
terminated her relationship with counsel.  He attached a
handwritten note with Ms. Manning's name on it, stating that she
considered the case closed.

However, Ms. Manning changed her mind and in July, Mr. Darr
submitted to the court an affidavit in which she said that it
was not her desire to terminate her relationship with counsel.

In August, the owner and the manager again moved to dismiss.
Attorney Jill Sundberg wrote that there could be no implied
warranty because Ms. Manning did not sign a lease.

Judge Matoesian set a Sept. 28 hearing on the motion, but on
that day Mr. Darr moved for leave to amend the complaint, which
the judge granted, giving him 30 days to amend it.  Forty-three
days later, the owner and the manager again moved to dismiss.  
Attorney Troy Bozarth wrote that plaintiffs had not amended the
complaint in 30 days.  He further wrote, "It is against the
orderly administration of justice to allow a party to willfully
disregard a Court order and to allow a case to meander through
discovery without an operative complaint on file."

Five days later, Mr. Darr filed an amended complaint.  It
changed the charge of breach of implied warranty to a charge of
negligent breach of implied warranty.  For the fourth time, the
owner and the manager moved to dismiss.  Mr. Bozarth wrote that
even if the court allowed a late amended complaint, there still
could be no breach of implied warranty if Ms. Manning signed no
lease.  He further wrote that the complaint alleged property
damage but failed to state what property was damaged.

Judge Matoesian heard the motion to dismiss on Jan. 13.  He
signed an order denying the motion, but instructed Mr. Darr to
allege separate counts against the defendants.


MASSACHUSETTS: Poor Children's Health Benefits Ruled Inadequate
---------------------------------------------------------------
A district judge ruled on Jan. 26 that the state of
Massachusetts violated the federal Medicaid Act by failing to
provide adequate and timely health services to 15,000 poor
children with serious emotional problems.

Judge Michael A. Ponsor rendered the ruling in class action
suit, Rosie D. et al versus (Gov.) W. Mitt Romney et al,
certified in 2002.  The case initially was filed in 2001 against
acting Gov. Jane M. Swift.  The suit claims the children were
either hospitalized or at risk of hospitalization because of the
state's failure to provide home-based services.

According to The Republican, Judge Ponsor ruled that the state
provided: (1) inadequate or non-existent medical assessments and
coordination of needed services for children with serious
emotional disturbances; and (2) inadequate or non-existent in-
home behavioral support services.

He will issue a permanent injunction, unless voluntary remedial
action is taken.  He gave both parties 14 days to draft proposal
to remedy the situation, and present a timetable of
implementation.  He wants to see a written proposal by Feb. 17,
2006.  A status conference in federal court was set for Feb. 23,
2006 at 3 p.m.
  
The three-party counsel for the plaintiffs were the Center for
Public Representation, the Mental Health Legal Advisors
Committee, and the Boston law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale
and Dorr.  The lawyer for the legal advisors committee is Frank
J. Laski.  The state attorney general is Thomas F. Reilly.


NEW HAMPSHIRE: Female Inmates File Suit V. DOC, Former Officer
--------------------------------------------------------------
Three female former inmates of a halfway house initiated a class
action lawsuit against a former sergeant of New Hampshire's
Department of Corrections (DOC) accusing him of repeatedly
raping them, The Associated Press reports.

Former inmates at the Shea Farm halfway house in Concord named
the DOC and Douglas Tower, 61, of Goffstown as defendants in the
lawsuit.  They are accusing Sgt. Tower of sexually assaulting
them at Shea Farm halfway house.  Their suit did not specify
compensation, an earlier Class Action Reporter story (January
27, 2006) reports.

Sgt. Tower also has been charged in a criminal case.  A probable
cause on four counts of rape is scheduled for Jan. 20.

The lawsuit was filed in Merrimack County Superior Court on
behalf of 125 former inmates of the halfway house.  Though the
civil suit does not specify damages, the lawyer for the three
unidentified women said damages would be outlined later.  

The women claim they suffered emotional pain, humiliation,
embarrassment, anguish and possible delay in being released and
rehabilitated.  Attorney Richard Lehmann told The Associated
Press that the decision to file a class action suit was made "to
assure the likelihood of compensation and to protect their
anonymity."

The suit alleges that the three women were inmates at Shea Farm
in 2004 and 2005 and that Sgt. Tower used his authority to
demand from them oral sex and intercourse without condoms.  It
claims that when Sgt. Tower was accused of sexual harassment
with a female corrections officer at the men's prison in Concord
and women's prison in Goffstown, the Corrections Department
transferred him to Shea Farm and failed to supervise him.
According to the suit, inmates at Shea Farm struggle with
chemical dependency and are trying to re-establish contact with
their families.

In addition, the suit outlines, `All residents know that they
can be sent back to the state prison for women ... if they do
not succeed in their rehabilitative efforts."  It also says,
"The resident of Shea Farm live ... in an extremely vulnerable
position between incarceration and freedom," adding that "Sgt.
Tower was aware of this fact" and "abused his position of power
and trust to satisfy his own sexual desires."

Court records in the criminal case revealed that Sgt. Tower
denied the accusations when investigators first approached him
in June.  He said that though the inmates at Shea Farm dressed
provocatively and flirted with him, he did not have sex with
them.

"He also stated that over the prior year, a dozen women at Shea
Farm made some sort of sexual advance toward him," according to
the records.  Sgt. Tower later admitted having sexual contact
with the women, but reiterates that in many cases the women
initiated the encounters.

However, according to the records, all four women said Sgt.
Tower forced himself on them with threats of punishments if they
rejected or reported him.  They also described similar patterns
that began with verbal come-ons that then progressed to groping
and rape.

One woman said Sgt. Tower raped her in his office right after
signing papers granting her a visit with her children.  "He told
her that she `owed him one,"' the papers say.  "Sgt. Tower told
her not to say anything because she could be sent back to the
women's prison."

Last year, former corrections officer Priscilla DeHotman, who
said Sgt. Tower sexually harassed her at the men's prison and
the women's prison, sued the Corrections Department.  That case
was settled out of court.

Sgt. Tower joined the Corrections Department in 1991 and worked
at the women's prison before being assigned in 2002 to Shea
Farm, then a men's facility.  In 2004 Shea Farm was converted to
a minimum-security halfway house for women.

For more details, contact Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, 6 Loudon
Rd., Suite 502, Concord, NH 03301, Phone: 603-224-1988,
603-229-1988 or 1-800-240-1988, E-mail: mail@nhlawoffice.com.


NEW YORK: Prisoners File Civil Rights Suit For Denied Parole
------------------------------------------------------------
Inmates in Middletown have filed a class action against Governor
George Pataki and his parole board chairman, according to the
Times Herald-Record.  Middletown lawyers Robert Isseks and Alex
Smith, and New York lawyer Peter Sell are demanding civil rights
for inmates who have been repeatedly denied parole.

The State's Division of Parole, where Robert Dennison serves as
chairman, was served with the lawsuit on Jan. 16, according to
the report.  Featured in the suit is James Buckley, a prisoner
at Mid-Orange Correction Facility in Warwick, who in 2004 was
denied parole for the eighth time.  He was sentenced to 15 years
to life for a murder conviction in 1976.  The suit claims people
like him should get new parole hearings immediately, instead of
having to wait the requisite two years.


OCWEN FINANCIAL: May Appeal TX Ruling, Amidst Litigation Wave
-------------------------------------------------------------
Ocwen Financial (NYSE: OCN), one of the nation's largest
servicers of mortgages to consumers with low credit scores, may
appeal a $1.8 million judgment in Texas as it strives to deal
with hundreds of cases alleging fraud, The South Florida
Business Journal reports.

Plaintiff lawyers are currently seeking class action status for
57 federal cases being consolidated in Chicago and the West Palm
Beach, Florida-based company says it is facing 331 lawsuits
altogether.  Previously, the Company wound down its savings and
loan subsidiary after an enforcement action by the Office of
Thrift Supervision.

The allegations are sometimes harsh, one plaintiff describes the
company's actions as "naked fraud," but Company general counsel
Paul Koches told The South Florida Business Journal that the
lawsuits are partly due to the fact that subprime loans have a
higher incidence of late payments.  The sheer volume of
Company's business also is a factor: It services about 368,000
loans, mostly subprime.

Among past customers is Sealy Davis, a home equity loan
borrower, who won her fraud claim in Texas, where a jury on Nov.
29, 2005 said she should get $11.5 million.  On Jan. 17, 2006
Judge Susan Criss, of Texas' 212th Judicial District, said she
was preparing to sign an order cutting that to $1.8 million.

Ms. Davis' attorney, Robert Hilliard of Corpus Christi, told The
South Florida Business Journal, "The jury believed that Ocwen
has a scheme of stealing homes" by classifying timely payments
as late and then beginning a foreclosure proceeding.  He added,
"We think the evidence supported the $11.5 million verdict."  He
proposed the lower figure though based on what he determined to
be Texas precedents on juries' multiple damage assessments.

Lawyers for the Company asked that the verdict be reversed or
that no penalty should be assessed.  In its appeal, the Company
plans to keep pressing that Ms. Davis was in "severe
delinquency," Mr. Koches said.

However, the Company probably isn't done with Mr. Hilliard.  The
attorney told The South Florida Business Journal that he is
preparing to file about 100 suits for Texas residents who claim
the Company falsified mortgage payments and began foreclosure
proceedings.

An exact number of suits that customers have filed against Ocwen
and its former Ocwen Federal Bank subsidiary was not readily
available.  However, The South Florida Business Journal's review
of court filings shows that the Company and affiliates are
defendants in more than 500 civil suits filed in federal courts
since 2002.  Many of these cases have more than one customer
among plaintiffs with about 100 of them still pending.

Mr. Koches told The South Florida Business Journal, "Annually,
we resolve 75 to 80 percent of severe delinquencies before they
go to foreclosure, by modifying the loan or granting other
forbearance."  The Company and its outside law firms are
reviewing the Galveston, Texas court's $1.8 million judgment to
determine their next possible step, he said.  Possibilities
include asking the district court to reduce the amount or set it
aside, or file an appeal with a state court of appeals in
Houston.

In 2004, the Company asked the U.S. Judicial Panel on
Multidistrict Litigation to begin consolidating a number of
federal cases filed against it and its affiliates. Records show
that 57 active cases have been consolidated in U.S. District
Court in Chicago.

Kweku Hanson, a Hartford, Conn., attorney, is among Company
customers whose suits are part of that consolidation. Mr. Hanson
told The South Florida Business Journal that he bought a home in
Hartford in August 1997, with a $75,000 loan from Ocwen Federal
Bank, which also serviced the loan.  Mr. Hanson says that he
began making payments ahead of schedule, and has cancelled
checks from his bank.  But, according to him, within one month
the Company began sending him notices that payments were late
and two months later a foreclosure specialist from the company
contacted him.

After challenging that foreclosure action in a state court, Mr.
Hanson filed his federal suit seeking damages in 2002.  He told
The South Florida Business Journal, "In the cases that have
consolidated and in hundreds of other cases, Ocwen has committed
naked fraud like this."

Customer complaints about loan servicing at Ocwen Federal, which
was based in Fort Lee, N.J., resulted in the U.S. Office of
Thrift Supervision's (OTS) April 2004 enforcement action against
the bank.  The Company subsidiary signed a written agreement
with the OTS, in which it agreed to improve its compliance with
the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

In June 2005, the OTS approved Ocwen Financial's request for
"voluntary dissolution" of Ocwen Federal.  In that arrangement,
Ocwen Financial sold the bank's Fort Lee office to Marathon
National Bank of Astoria, N.Y., and transferred its assets and
liabilities to several other banks.
OHIO: Summary Judgment Requested on Sferra Speed-Camera Lawsuit
---------------------------------------------------------------
Lawyers of a Girard woman, who filed a suit against the issuing
of tickets from a camera set up to catch speeders, asked the
court to issue a summary judgment on the case, according to
Youngstown Vindicator.  Attorneys Brian P. Kish and David J.
Betras of Canfield also asked that a municipal ordinance that
classifies a speeding violation as a civil offense is
unconstitutional.  

Earlier, the 11th District Court of Appeals granted a request by
Julie Sferra to stop hearings against her in her speeding case.  
But the order applied only to Ms. Sferra's case, and excludes
the rest of the class.  According to the report, motion asks the
court to:

     (1) permanently stop the city from issuing any more photo
         radar speeding citations or holding any future hearings
         before a hearing officer designated to handle disputes
         over citations issued by the camera;

     (2) order the city to stop collecting any future fines from
         citations issued by the camera; and

     (3) the city provide the names of all those who were fined
         from the camera and return the fine money to those who
         have paid.

In a separate case, Judge John Stuard of Trumbull County Common
Pleas Court, has ordered the city not to collect fines, but
instead put into an interest-bearing escrow account.

The city denied that Girard's camera system fails to comply with
Ohio traffic laws in the manner in which violators are notified
of their violation.  It also denied that the system employs a
hearing officer to handle the cases who is not a judge or
magistrate elected or appointed according to the Ohio
Constitution (Class Action Reporter, Dec. 6, 2005).

The city further denied that the city's ordinance creating the
Automated Traffic Enforcement Division is unconstitutional and
violates equal protection, due process, confrontation and
separation of powers parts of the Ohio Constitution.  Girard
said the system doesn't violate Ohio law requiring that courts
assess points for a violation of any law or ordinance pertaining
to speed (Class Action Reporter, Dec. 6, 2005).


OHIO: Judge Sides with Plaintiff in Speed-Camera Lawsuit
--------------------------------------------------------
Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge David E. Henderson has
ordered the removal of speed cameras in Steubenville after a
lawyer challenged the installation of the device in a class
action.  Attorney Gary M. Stern, whose wife received two speed
camera citations in the mail, each bearing a $85 fine, said in
the lawsuit the city does not follow the terms of its own
ordinance which requires a 14-day notice before installing the
cameras.  Mr. Stern wants the $229,000 in fines already
collected by the city to be refunded, according to I-Newswire.

Mr. Stern claims that the cameras are unconstitutional for a
number of reasons among those are that motorists don't have the
right to appeal.  The traffic cameras read the speed of cars
driving by, and if you are in excess of the speed limit, you are
mailed an $85 ticket, according to court documents (Class Action
Reporter, Nov. 25, 2005).

Under a recent court-ordered injunction, anyone who got a
traffic camera ticket after it has two more months before they
need to pay.  Those who already paid will have to wait longer to
see if they'll get their money back.

Back in December, a judge ruled that tickets issued from the
camera couldn't be enforced until the case goes to court, which
was supposed to be next week.  Traffipax, the owner of the
cameras, asked a judge to take it off the lawsuit, but was
denied (Class Action Reporter, Jan. 23, 2006).  The case is set
to go to court on March 9, 2006 (Class Action Reporter, Dec. 16,
2006).


OREGON: Public Service Retirees Deny State Overpays into Pension
----------------------------------------------------------------
Retired public employees in Oregon filed a class action seeking
to protect their pension from efforts of the Public Employees
Retirement System Board to recoup alleged overpayments.  Albany
Democrat Herald reports that at stake is hundreds of millions of
dollars granted to those who left public service between April
1, 2000 and March 31, 2004.  

The lawsuit was filed after Marion Circuit Judge Paul Lipscomb
ruled that the system contributed more than necessary into the
worker pension accounts from the pension fund's 1999 investment
earnings.  Retirees deny there were overpayments, and refused to
pay them back.  

The lawsuit could protect the pensions of 20,000 retired public
employees, the report said.  The pensioners are due a 2% annual
cost-of-living increase.

The retirees' lawyers, Greg Hartman, fought last year to
overturn part of the Legislature's 2003 PERS reform.  He
believes the ruling on the case could protect retirees' money
against the PERS.  

But Joseph Malkin, an attorney representing PERS, argues the
state law provides that the system is legally obliged to recover
the money, and that it could seek other ways to get the money
back other than freezing their annual cost-of-living adjustment.


ORTHO-MCNEIL: Facing New Lawsuit over Contraceptive Patch
---------------------------------------------------------  
Parker & Waichman, LLP filed a suit against Ortho-McNeil
Pharmaceutical, Inc., a division of Johnson and Johnson Inc., on
behalf of a woman who suffered bilateral pulmonary emboli in
December 2003 at the age of 31 after using the Ortho Evra
contraceptive patch for 15 days.  

The plaintiff began using the patch on Dec. 15, 2003, and
subsequently began experiencing severe chest pain and shortness
of breath.  On Dec. 30, 2003, after her symptoms worsened, the
plaintiff was taken to the emergency room.  Diagnostic tests at
the hospital revealed bilateral pulmonary emboli, and the
plaintiff was admitted to the hospital for Heparin and Coumadin
(anticoagulant) therapy.  The plaintiff has undergone prolonged
treatment with these medications, and the treatment may be
necessary for the remainder of her life.  

The suit (http://www.orthopatchlawsuit.comor  
http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Ortho_Evra_Patch)was  
filed in the United States District Court for the District of
New Jersey in Newark, New Jersey.  

On November 10, 2005, Ortho McNeil, in conjunction with the FDA,
issued a warning about the increased risks of blood clots
associated with Ortho Evra.  In the new warning, Ortho-McNeil
admitted for the first time that women who use the patch will be
exposed to up to 60% more estrogen than they would be exposed to
if they were taking a birth control pill with 35 micrograms of
estrogen.  The patch is only intended to deliver 20 micrograms
of estrogen.  The FDA's announcement on this warning is at
http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/news/2005/NEW01262.html. It is  
widely understood that increased exposure to estrogen greatly
increases the risk of blood clots, which can cause serious
injury or death.

Pulmonary embolism is a type of thromboembolism that occurs when
an artery in either lung becomes blocked.  In most cases, the
blockage is caused by one or more blood clots that travel to the
lungs from another part of the body.  Usually these clots
migrate from the legs, but they can also form in the pelvic
vein.  

Pulmonary embolism is potentially fatal or may result in
pulmonary arterial obstruction, pulmonary obstruction, pulmonary
infarction, chronic pulmonary hypertension, dyspenea and
tachypnea.  Symptoms may include shortness of breath, difficulty
breathing, anxiety, chest pain, fainting and convulsions.  
Treatment may include long term use of anticoagulant medications
and/or surgery.  Recent reports have indicated that the risk of
developing blood clots, pulmonary embolism, heart attack and
stroke may be significantly higher with the Ortho Evra patch
than with oral contraceptive use.

The suit alleged that Ortho-McNeil was aware of the increased
medical risks associated with Ortho Evra before the drug was
approved and that, once approved, the company failed to
adequately warn patients about these risks.  Evidence shows that
the risk of blood clots, heart attack and stroke associated with
Ortho Evra is significantly higher than with oral contraceptive
pills.  

The incidence of embolisms and thrombotic injuries in Phase III
trials of Ortho Evra was reportedly six times greater than the
incidence of such events in oral contraceptives using the
hormone levonorgestral.  The FDA has logged 9,116 reports of
adverse reactions to the patch in a 17-month period, whereas
Ortho Tri-Cyclen, a birth control pill, only generated 1,237
adverse reports in a six-year period.  During a 12-month period,
44 serious injuries or deaths have been associated with Ortho
Evra, whereas only 17 such reports were linked to the birth
control pill during a similar time period.  The pattern is
further magnified when usage rates are considered: Ortho Tri-
Cyclen has six times the number of users as Ortho Evra.

Ortho Evra is an adhesive, transdermal birth control patch that
is worn on the torso.  The patch is intended to release 150 mcg
of norelgestromin and 20 mcg of ethinyl estradiol into the
bloodstream per 24 hours.  It is replaced once a week for three
weeks, and no patch is worn during the fourth week during
menstruation.  The regimen is then repeated.  Ortho Evra was
approved by the FDA in November 2001, and over 4 million women
have used Ortho Evra since its approval. Ortho Evra continues to
be marketed aggressively to both consumers and physicians.

The suit was styled "Pacheco, et. al v. Johnson & Johnson, et.
al (2:06-cv-00241-KSH-PS)" filed in the United States District
Court for the District of New Jersey in Newark, New Jersey,
under Judge Katharine S. Hayden.  Representing the plaintiff(s)
is Melanie H. Muhlstock, Parker & Waichman, 1 gateway center
Suite 2500, Newark, NJ 07102 (http://www.yourlawyer.com,Phone:  
(973)-297-1020; E-mail: mmuhlstock@yourlawyer.com.


PENNSYLVANIA: Judge Rules V. Suit Waivers in Adhesion Contracts
---------------------------------------------------------------
Judge Mark I. Bernstein, the court official, who is in charge of
Philadelphia's class action program, ruled that class litigation
preclusion clauses in contracts of adhesion are "unconscionable
and unenforceable," The Legal Intelligencer reports.

In his strongly worded opinion in "Thibodeau v. Comcast," which
consolidated both that case and "Afroilan v. AT&T Wireless," the
judge concluded that the mandatory individual arbitration
clauses found in many contracts of adhesion served to "immunize
large corporations from liability by allowing them to preclude
all class action litigation."  The opinion also included a
prefatory quote from the late-19th/early-20th century French
novelist Anatole France, "The law in its majesty prohibits rich
and poor alike from sleeping under bridges."

The "Thibodeau" case involves a proposed class of people who
rented cable boxes and remotes from Comcast, allegedly unaware
until they did so that those items were not needed in order to
receive basic cable.  Meanwhile, in the "Afroilan" case, the
plaintiffs are AT&T cell phone customers who claim they did not
know until they signed up for service that they could not use
their phones on non-AT&T networks.

In both cases, the plaintiffs stated that once they became
customers of the respective companies, they were given by the
service providers documents informing them that all grievances
would be dealt with via individual arbitration.

Judge Bernstein wrote, "It is only the class action vehicle
which makes small consumer litigation possible."  He explains,
"Consumers, joining together as a class, pool their resources,
share the costs and efforts of litigation and make redress
possible."

The Judge further wrote, "[Lorena] Afroilan, [Philip] Thibodeau
and their class members are claiming minimal damages.  Ms.
Afroilan and each of [her class's] members allege the cellular
phones they purchased for $50 are unusable.  Mr. Thibodeau and
each of his class members allege they were unlawfully
overcharged $9.60 per month.  Everybody knows that these claims
will never be arbitrated on an individual basis, either by the
named plaintiffs or by any other of the millions of class
members they represent."

According to the opinion, Ms. Afroilan, a Coatesville, Pa.,
resident, bought a Panasonic cell phone that contained a locking
device preventing her from using any other network than AT&T.  
The "Welcome Guide" included in that purchase, which she did not
see beforehand, included the mandatory arbitration clause.

Mr. Thibodeau, of Pembroke, Mass., was a customer of a separate
cable provider when Comcast acquired it in 2002.  After the
acquisition, the new Comcast customers were sent a customer
agreement that included a mandatory arbitration clause.

Judge Bernstein acknowledged in his opinion that arbitration has
become commonplace in the modern era, and that it can often
provide a "quicker, less expensive and always more private
alternative to traditional litigation."  However, he pointed out
that Pennsylvania's courts have, especially in recent years,
issued a number of opinions dealing with "unconscionable"
contracts of adhesion, which are not in and of themselves
illegal.  

Specifically, Judge Bernstein cited to two Superior Court
decisions: "Lytle v. Citifinancial Services (2002)" and "McNulty
v. H&R Block (2004)." In "Lytle", the court ruled that
prohibitions on class litigation are unconscionable if the costs
of individual arbitrations tend to dissuade consumers from
pursuing their grievances.  The "McNulty" panel reaffirmed that
holding in a case involving plaintiffs faced with the
possibility of spending $50 and much time in order to possibly
be awarded $30.

In addition, the judge also called attention to the fact that
state courts in other jurisdictions, such as California, have
struck down the use of mandatory individual arbitration
provisions in contracts of adhesion.  He pointed out,  "Class
actions are still of great importance.  Class action lawsuits
are and remain the essential vehicle by which consumers may
vindicate their lawful rights.  The average consumer, having
limited financial resources and time, cannot individually
present minor claims in court or in an arbitration."

Judge Bernstein found that both Ms. Afroilan and Mr. Thibodeau
were forced to accept all the terms of the customer agreements
imposed on them by the respective service providers.  He goes on
to state in his opinion: "No individual will expend the time,
fees, costs and/or other expenses necessary for individual
litigation or individual arbitration for [the] small potential
recovery [at issue in these cases].  If the mandatory individual
arbitration and preclusion of class action provisions are valid,
Comcast and AT&T are immunized from the challenges brought by
Ms. Afroilan, Mr. Thibodeau, [or] by any class member, or,
effectively, from any minor consumer claims."

A number of the same attorneys are involved in both cases.  Lead
counsel for both Comcast and AT&T is Seamus Duffy of Drinker
Biddle & Reath.  Attorneys from Williams Cuker Berezofsky are
involved on the plaintiffs' side in both "Thibodeau" and
"Afroilan."

Gerard Williams told The Legal Intelligencer that he and his
"Thibodeau" co-counsel requested the matter's proposed class be
categorized as nationwide.  If so, according to him, it would
include more than 100,000 members, but if limited to residents
in Pennsylvania, it would include tens of thousands.

Commenting on the opinion, Mr. Williams also told The Legal
Intelligencer, "We think Judge Bernstein saw the real purpose of
these provisions.  It's not to make resolving disputes easier
with arbitration, it's to prevent there being any resolution of
the dispute."

Mr. Williams' partner Mark Cuker is representing Ms. Afroilan
along with attorneys from the Jacobs Law Group.  Matthew Cohen
of the Jacobs Law Group told The Legal Intelligencer that the
last count of plaintiffs in the proposed "Afroilan" class was
10,000.  Early on, the proposed class for the case was limited
to Pennsylvania residents.

Mr. Cohen told The Legal Intelligencer that he views the judge's
decision as making crystal clear what recent state appellate
court decisions have been laying the groundwork for in opinions
like "Lytle" and "McNulty."  He pointed out, "We believe that
all Judge Bernstein did was follow what has been the law in this
state, and really hasn't set any new precedent."

Panasonic's attorney in "Afroilan" is Walter Swayze of Segal
McCambridge Singer & Mahoney.  He told The Legal Intelligencer
that his client is reviewing Judge Bernstein's opinion.


PFIZER, INC.: IN Viagra Suit Likely to Lose Certification
---------------------------------------------------------
U.S. District Court records show that a federal lawsuit
initiated by a Fort Wayne man against, Pfizer, Inc., the
country's largest pharmaceutical company over the drug Viagra is
likely going to lose its certification as a class action, The
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports.

According to the suit, which was filed in the United States
District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Robert
Troutman, who received a Viagra sample package from his family
doctor, took a pill August 27, 2003, and woke the next morning
to find "dramatic reduction in vision in his left eye," an
earlier Class Action Reporter story (August 24, 2005) reports

Mr. Troutman alleges that Pfizer Inc. acted negligently in the
promotion, production and distribution of the drug intended to
aid men suffering from erectile dysfunction.  He claims in the
suit that he was hospitalized and underwent medical procedures
to determine the cause of the partial blindness.  Mr. Troutman,
according to the suit, was not taking other medications that are
warned against in the labeling of Viagra, an earlier Class
Action Reporter story (August 24, 2005) reports

In addition, Mr. Troutman contends that Pfizer misrepresented
the results of studies during promotional efforts, therefore
minimizing the risk of vision problems when marketing the drug
to the public.  Pfizer, according to the suit, had the duty to
responsibly research and develop the drug but failed to do so
and failed to effectively alert consumers to the risks, an
earlier Class Action Reporter story (August 24, 2005) reports

Thus, on behalf of men similarly situated, Mr. Troutman thru the
suit is seeking an unspecified amount of damages for medical
expenses incurred, loss of earnings, diminished earnings and
future medical expenses, as well as punitive damages, an earlier
Class Action Reporter story (August 24, 2005) reports

Mr. Troutman was named as the lead party in the case, which had
been certified as a class action, meaning the lawsuit represents
similarly situated people who may have also suffered vision loss
as a result of using the drug.  The certification means if the
Company lost and had to pay damages, the money would be
dispersed among all of the people determined to be part of the
class.

Mr. Troutman has since died and his attorney, J. Michael Loomis,
has filed paperwork seeking that his wife be substituted on the
lawsuit as his personal representative and to withdraw the class
certification.  Mr. Loomis told The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
that the certification should be removed because a personal
representative isn't necessarily allowed to act as the lead
party in a lawsuit.

Mr. Loomis also told The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette that after
Mr. Troutman's wife is identified in estate court records as the
personal representative, the class certification would be
removed.  The suit then will only be in pursuit of financial
damages for Mr. Troutman via his estate.

The suit is styled, "Robert Troutman v. Pfizer Inc., Case No.
1:05-cv-00286-WCL-RBC," filed in the U.S. District Court for the
Northern District of Indiana under the Honorable William C. Lee
presiding.  The Plaintiff/s is represented by J Michael Loomis
and Trisha K. Walls of Loomis Law Office, Suite A, 1000 Airport
North Office Park, Fort Wayne, IN, 46825, Phone: 260-490-6100,
Fax: 260-489-7002, E-mail: loomislawoffice@verizon.net.


ST. PAUL: Executive Testifies, Says Firm Didn't Cheat WV Doctors
----------------------------------------------------------------
Jay Fishman, chief executive officer of St. Paul Travelers
insurance, swore to a Kanawha County jury that his Company did
not cheat West Virginia doctors out of millions of dollars when
it stopped selling medical malpractice insurance, The West
Virginia Record reports.

"We did nothing wrong," Mr. Fishman testified on Jan. 12, 2006
in the trial of a class action suit before Circuit Judge Paul
Zakaib Jr.  In the suit, doctors Eric Mantz, Willis Trammel and
Todd Witsberger allege that in 2001 the insurer, then named St.
Paul Fire and Marine, withdrew from the malpractice market in a
plot to convert a portion of doctors' premiums to the company's
own uses.

Mr. Fishman told jurors that it did not happen that way.  He
explained that St. Paul withdrew because it faced years of big
losses on malpractice claims.  According to his testimony, "The
Company was beginning to lose its credibility in the financial
marketplace.  It was just beginning to run out of time."  He
adds, "These are not little decisions.  These are big time
decisions."

Mr. Fishman took the stand although the doctors did not compel
his testimony by subpoena.  "I don't have to be here," he said,
speaking directly to the six jurors and four alternates in Judge
Zakaib's courtroom.  He pointed out that he came to Charleston,
West Virginia because accusations against the Company upset him.

St. Paul, prior to its withdrawal, offered a "reporting
endorsement" that would keep a policy in force after a doctor's
death, disability or retirement, at no further charge.  For this
benefit, nicknamed "tail coverage," the three doctors paid a two
percent surcharge on quarterly premiums.  After St. Paul
withdrew, the doctors closed their private surgical practice and
joined the West Virginia University faculty.  They applied for
tail coverage.  The Company billed them for it.

The doctors retained former Supreme Court of Appeals Justice
Richard Neely.  He filed suit in 2002, arguing that his clients
deserved free tail coverage.

In 2003, Judge Zakaib certified the plaintiffs as
representatives of a national class of about 43,000 doctors.
Last year, he limited the class to about 1,240 West Virginia
doctors.

Mr. Neely, in a pretrial memorandum, predicted that a jury would
award class members about $5.3 million in compensatory damages
and $45 million in punitive damages.  He intended to convince
jurors that on Dec. 7, 2001, when St. Paul announced it would
withdraw from the market, its executives had planned for months
to withdraw.

Mr. Fishman countered this charge by testifying that before Oct.
11, 2001, when he took over the management of the company,
leaving the market was not an option.  According to him, two
days before the announcement, his managers still pursued ideas
for staying in the market.


TAKE-TWO INTERACTIVE: Sued for Selling Pornographic Video Games
---------------------------------------------------------------
The city of Los Angeles filed a suit against Take-Two
Interactive Software Inc., for selling video games imbedded with
pornographic materials, according to The RealityCheck.org.  Its
"Grand Theft Auto" video game is alleged to contain hidden
"virtual sex scenes," whose marketing is primarily focused on
teens and young adults.

According to lawyer Rockard Delgadillo, the suit deceived
consumers and retailers by:

     (1) intentionally labeling the game "Mature 17+" instead of  
         "Adults Only 18+"; and

     (2) claiming that hackers had modified the game's code to
         include the sex scenes, and later admitting the sex
         scenes were placed into the original code.

It is demanding:

     (1) that Take-Two and Rockstar Games, the subsidiary behind
         "Grand Theft Auto," stop selling the game to minors,

     (2) $10 million in profits earned from the game's sales be
         returned, and

     (3) authorities fine the company $2500 for each misleading
         statement previously made about the game by the
         manufacturer.

According to the report, individual consumers in New York are
seeking class action status lawsuits against the company for the
same or similar reasons.  The Federal Trade Commission is
reportedly investigating the company.

Take-Two Interactive on the Net: http://www.take2games.com/.

   
TCI INVESTMENT: Canadian Men Deny Guilt in Investing Club Suit
--------------------------------------------------------------
Two men from Ontario, Canada's London-area, who are named in a
$765 million lawsuit by hundreds of disgruntled investors of TCI
Investment Club claim they're still owed money themselves and
had no control over others' finances, The London Free Press
reports.

As more investors are signing up in a legal battle that
originated in church but appears headed for an ending in court,
attorney Brian Shiller told The London Free Press, "My intention
is to take this to trial and vindicate the good name of these
two individuals."  Mr. Shiller represents London resident Ross
Alexander and Uniondale resident William Rath.

In a recently filed statement of defense by Mr. Shiller, "They
had no more, even less success . . . than many other investors."  
"As with other investors, there are still significant amounts of
money owed (them)," according to the statement of defense.

The class-action suit, which was filed in November 2005 in the
Superior Court of Justice in London, says Mr. Alexander and Mr.
Rath controlled the TCI Investment Club, which owes millions of
dollars to investors.  The two men introduced some people to the
Company, but did not advise anyone to put money in, counters the
statement of defense.

Mr. Shiller would not say how much each man is owed by the
Company, but he told The London Free Press that Mr. Alexander
invested $30,000 and Mr. Rath invested $20,000 into a Company
called Arcadia Resources.  According to the statement of claim,
Arcadia Resources later became known as TCI.

The damages claimed by investors in the lawsuit are "excessive,"
the statement of defense claims.  And neither of them is the
mysterious Charles Gordon, a TCI manager, the statement says.  
No one has been able to find Mr. Gordon, who sent e-mails to
investors, or determine if he exists.

The statement of defense takes aim at a website set up by
unhappy investors to advise others and collect names for the
class-action suit.  According to the statement of defense, "One
purpose for the design of the website was to falsely convince
investors in TCI to believe that they have been defrauded by
these defendants."  Asked if that hinted at legal action of his
own against the investors, Mr. Shiller declined to comment.

Recently, the website said new claimants are joining the class-
action suit each day.  Their London lawyer, David Kirwin,
confirmed people are continuing to register and a clerk has been
assigned just to handle "the large group of people."

Both the statements of claim and of defense contain allegations
not yet proven in court.  The statement of defense dismayed, but
did not surprise one investor.  "It is clear that the same thing
is going to continue, they will continue to deny," according to
the investor, who asked to remain anonymous.

More than 200 people had signed on to a class-action lawsuit
against Mr. Rath, Mr. Alexander and others in November, although
a group representative estimated as many as 5,000 people from
across North America has lost money.  Many of the 200 local
complainants came from two London area church congregations.

According to the statement of claim, the TCI Investment Club was
an online organization that promised returns of three to 15 per
cent on minimum investments of $10,000.  However, since February
2002, the investors have received no money requested, the
statement of claim says.

Investors are seeking $15 million US in principal and another
US$750 million in returns promised in e-mails and online
reports.


TELLABS INC.: IL Appeals Court Reinstates Shareholders' Lawsuit
---------------------------------------------------------------
In reversing a lower court ruling, a federal appeals court
reinstated a shareholder lawsuit, which is alleging that
executives at Tellabs Inc. misled investors about the firm's
health five years ago, The Chicago Tribune reports.

Filed in 2001, the class action suit alleges that Richard
Notebaert, then Tellabs chief executive, and Michael Birck, co-
founder and chairman of the telecom equipment supplier, painted
a rosy picture of the Naperville, Illinois-based firm's
prospects that they knew was false.  

The suit was filed in the United States District Court of the
Northern District of Illinois, alleging that during the class
period (December 11, 2000 to June 19, 2001) the defendants
violated the federal securities laws by making materially false
and misleading statements, including, among other things,
allegedly providing revenue forecasts that were false and
misleading, misrepresenting demand for the Company's products,
and reporting overstated revenues for the fourth quarter 2000 in
the Company's financial statements.  

Further, certain of the individual defendants were alleged to
have violated the federal securities laws by trading the
Company's securities while allegedly in possession of material,
non-public information about the Company pertaining to these
matters, an earlier Class Action Reporter story (December 19,
2005) reports.

During the period in question, Company stock fell from above $60
a share to less than $15 as sales of telecom equipment slumped.  
Mr. Notebaert at the time blamed the decline on fallout from the
bursting of the Internet bubble, which was disastrous for the
telecom industry.

Specifically, the suit alleges that even before the bubble
burst, Mr. Notebaert and other Tellabs executives artificially
inflated equipment sales.  Mr. Notebaert repeatedly told
analysts and shareholders that demand for Tellabs' traditional
product, called the Titan 5500, was strong and growing.  He also
said that a new product, called the Titan 6500, was shipping and
gaining customer acceptance.

In fact, the suit alleged, Tellabs was shipping Titan 5500
products that hadn't been ordered in a practice called "channel
stuffing," in order to inflate the company's sales revenue.  IN
addition, the suit quoted unnamed insiders at Tellabs as saying
that the Company wasn't yet making the Titan 6500 when Mr.
Notebaert claimed it was gaining market acceptance.

On January 17, 2003, the Company and the other named defendants
filed a motion to dismiss the consolidated amended class action
complaint in its entirety.  On May 19, 2003, the Court granted
the motion and dismissed all counts of the consolidated amended
complaint, while affording plaintiffs an opportunity to replead.
On July 11, 2003, plaintiffs filed a second consolidated amended
class action complaint against the Company, Mr. Birck and Mr.
Notebaert, and many (although not all) of the other previously
named individual defendants, re-alleging claims similar to those
contained in the previously dismissed consolidated amended class
action complaint.  The Company filed a second motion to dismiss
on August 22, 2003, seeking the dismissal with prejudice of all
claims alleged in the second consolidated amended class action
complaint, an earlier Class Action Reporter story (December 19,
2005) reports.

On February 19, 2004, the Court issued an order granting that
motion and dismissed the action with prejudice.  On March 18,
2004, the plaintiffs filed a Notice of Appeal to the United
States Federal Court of Appeal for the Seventh Circuit appealing
the dismissal. The appeal was fully briefed, oral argument was
heard on January 21, 2005 and the parties are awaiting a
decision, an earlier Class Action Reporter story (December 19,
2005) reports.

In addressing these and other allegations, the U.S. District
Court in Chicago ruled that various disclaimers issued by
Tellabs in 2000 and 2001 negated whatever misleading statements
its executives may have made.  However, the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the 7th Circuit disagreed, ruling that the
disclaimers were not specific enough.  The appeals court also
found there is sufficient likelihood that Mr. Notebaert knew his
statements would mislead investors, so that the lower court
should continue with the case to determine the facts.

In response to the ruling, the Company issued a statement that
said it "believes this case is without merit. Our counsel is
reviewing this decision, which was just issued today, and we
cannot elaborate until that review is complete."

Mr. Notebaert, who took the reins at the Company in 2000, was
the former CEO of Ameritech, which was sold to SBC
Communications Inc.  In 2002, he left the Company to become CEO
of Qwest Communications International Inc., a Denver, Colorado-
based carrier.

When he took over at Qwest, it was on the verge of bankruptcy
following a series of financial and accounting scandals.  Hired
in part for his spotless reputation, Mr. Notebaert was later
hailed for rejuvenating Qwest and putting it on a more solid
financial footing.

The suit is styled "Johnson, et al. v. Tellabs Inc, et al., Case
No. 1:02-cv-04356," filed in the U.S. District Court for the
Northern District of Illinois under Judge Amy J. St. Eve.  
Representing the Plaintiff/s is Steven G. Schulman, Milberg
Weiss Bershad & Schulman LLP, One Pennsylvania Plaza, 49th
Floor, New York, NY 10119-0165, Phone: (212) 594-5300.  
Representing the Defendant/s is David F. Graham, Sidley Austin
Brown & Wood LLP, 10 South Dearborn Street, Bank One Plaza,
Chicago, IL 60603, Phone: (312) 853-7000.  


TENNESSEE: Teamsters Demand Audit of Officers' Pension Plan
-----------------------------------------------------------
The Teamsters Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of Metro officers
against the Metro government to force it to conduct a
performance audit of the officers' pension plan.

The officers, in a class action suit filed in Chancery Court in
Nashville, are seeking a declaratory judgment forcing Metro to
conduct the audit, claiming that Metro has breached its
fiduciary responsibility by failing to do so since 2000.  The
last performance audit in 2000 revealed numerous irregularities,
including a fund loss of $60 million between 1996 and 1999.  The
suit also names the pension fund's Investment Committee.

"We demand that Metro abide by its fiduciary responsibility and
conduct a performance audit -- six years is far too long for a
follow-up audit," said Metro Officer Melissa Johnson, one of the
officers who signed on to the suit.

"Our retirement is at stake here, and the FOP (Fraternal Order
of Police) has done nothing to force Metro to do its job.  By
filing this lawsuit, the Teamsters have already done more than
the FOP has in the past six years alone."

"We need this information so that we can properly evaluate the
benefit levels and funding status of the plan," said Jimmy Neal,
President of Teamsters Local 327 in Nashville.  "This
information is critical to the officers so that when we join
them at the bargaining table, we will be in a strong position to
fight for their futures."  Officers get the opportunity to vote
for the Teamsters on Feb. 8.

In addition to the $60 million loss, the 2000 audit also
revealed:

     (1) inherent conflicts of interest with a consultant whose
         advice was relied upon exclusively in the management of
         Metro's pension funds;

     (2) That the consultant provided the Fund Benefit Board
         with misleading information, resulting in Board
         decisions that generated higher commissions;

     (3) That the consultant, in December 1999, recommended the
         Board rebalance the pension assets, moving some
         investments.  The Board accepted the advice and
         rebalanced the pension assets.  As a result, $113
         million of investments were transferred, and the
         consultant was paid $300,000 to correct his own
         mistakes; and

     (4) That the investment consultant did not adequately
         report the pension's investment performance to the
         Board, and that investments in real estate, venture
         capital and other investments have been made without
         appropriate analysis and are not adequately monitored.

The Teamsters Law Enforcement League, a division of the
International Brotherhood of Teamsters, represents more than
1,200 law enforcement bargaining units across the country.


UNITED HEALTHCARE: Insurer/Health Provider Dispute Yields Suit
--------------------------------------------------------------
A Sylvania coupled filed a suit against United Healthcare, and
ProMedica Health System for delayed medical services arising
from a contract dispute between the insurer and the health
provider.  

Brian and Edna Yeager filed the case in the U.S. District Court
in Toledo.  The suit, which also named Mr. Yeagers' employer
Home Depot as defendant, seeks class-action status to include
all Home Depot employees and other United members whose coverage
was affected when United cancelled its health coverage contract
with ProMedica on Jan. 1.  United serves 35,000 members in
northwest Ohio.

United signed all Mercy Health Partner hospitals to its network,
but, according to the complaint, the Yeagers' primary care
physician, who is in the ProMedica network, is not allowed to
refer the couple to doctors and facilities in the Mercy Health
Partners network.

The case was styled "Yeager, et. al v. United Healthcare
Services, Inc. et. al (3:06-cv-07034-JGC) filed in the U.S.
District of Ohio Northern District Court, under Judge James G.
Carr.  Representing the plaintiff(s) are Kimberly A. Donovan of
Kerger & Associates, Ste. 100, 33 South Michigan Street,
Toledo, OH 43602, Phone: 419-255-5990, Fax: 419-255-5997; E-mail
kimdonovan@kergerkerger.com; and Stephen D. Hartman of Kerger &
Kerger, Ste. 201, 33 South Michigan Street, Toledo, OH 43602,
Phone: 419-255-5990; Fax: 419-255-5997; E-mail:
stevehartman@kergerkerger.com.


WAL-MART STORES: Plaintiffs Seek Consolidation of Six Lawsuits
--------------------------------------------------------------
Lawyers for Wal-Mart employees on Thursday asked a federal
judicial panel in Orlando to consolidate class action filed
against it from Nevada, South Dakota, Alaska, Delaware, Idaho
and Hawaii, according to Orlando Sentinel.  The suits are among
the 50 filed against it in state and federal courts, alleging
the retailer failed to pay employees for all time worked, the
report said citing a court filing.

Attoreny Brian Duffy, opposed the consolidation in behalf of
Wal-Mart, saying the six cases different legal issues in each
state.  Meanwhile Robert Bonsignore said moving the lawsuits to
one court in Nevada would ease litigation procedures.  The panel
of federal judges is expected to issue a ruling within a month,
the report said.

Mr. Bonsignore estimates he represents more than 1.5 million
current and former Wal-Mart employees in 10 lawsuits filed in
states from Hawaii to Maine.


                New Securities Fraud Cases

AMKOR TECHNOLOGY: Schiffrin & Barroway Files Fraud Suit in PA
-------------------------------------------------------------
Schiffrin & Barroway, LLP filed a class action in the United
States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
on behalf of all securities purchasers of Amkor Technology, Inc.
(AMKR) from October 27, 2003 through July 1, 2004 inclusive.

The complaint charges Amkor and certain of its officers and
directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934.  Amkor operates as a subcontractor of semiconductor
packaging and test services worldwide.  It offers traditional
packaging, which includes traditional lead frame products; and
advanced packaging, which includes advanced lead frames and
laminate products.

The complaint alleges that defendants issued a series of false
and misleading statements to the market artificially inflating
the Company's stock.  As a consequence of the Company's material
inflation of its stock price, the Defendants were able to raise
$152 million in a secondary offering and to complete a $250
million note offering.  More specifically, the Defendants failed
to disclose the following materially adverse facts to the
market:

     (1) that the Company was shipping inventory to customer far
         in excess of customer demand;

     (2) as a result of this deliberate channel stuffing, the
         Company undermined the future demand for its products;

     (3) that the Company's profit margins were significantly
         and negatively impacted by the rapidly rising material
         costs; and

     (4) that as a consequence of the foregoing, the Company's
         positive statements about its condition and future
         prospects were lacking in a reasonable basis.

On April 27, 2004, Amkor announced that the Company was
experiencing weakness for its cell phone products.  On this
news, shares of Amkor fell $4.26 per share, or $31.74 percent,
to close, on April 27, 2004, at $9.16 per share.  Following this
disclosure, on July 1, 2004, Amkor announced that it failed to
meet its expected guidance for net income in the second quarter
of 2004.  On this news, shares of Amkor fell $2.39 per share, or
29.22 percent, to close, on July 1, 2004, at $5.79 per share.

Then, on August 22, 2005, Amkor announced that the SEC issued a
formal order of investigation concerning certain trading in
Amkor securities.

Schiffrin & Barroway, LLP on the Net: http://www.sbclasslaw.com;
Darren J. Check, Esq. or Richard A. Maniskas, Esq., Phone:
1-888-299-7706 (toll free) or 1-610-667-7706: E-mail:
info@sbclasslaw.com.


IMPAC MORTGAGE: Lerach Coughlin Files Securities Fraud Suit
-----------------------------------------------------------
Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins LLP initiated a
class action in the United States District Court for the Central
District of California on behalf of purchasers of Impac Mortgage
Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:IMH) publicly traded securities during the
period between May 13, 2005 and August 9, 2005.

The complaint charges Impac Mortgage and certain of its officers
and directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934.  Impac Mortgage operates as a mortgage real estate
investment trust, which engages in the acquisition, origination,
sale, and securitization of nonconforming Alt-A mortgages.

The complaint alleges that during the Class Period, defendants
made false and misleading statements regarding the Company's
business and prospects, including its projected taxable income
and projected dividend payouts, which were of critical
importance to the market, causing the Company's stock to trade
at artificially inflated prices of as high as $22.07 per share.

On August 9, 2005, Impac Mortgage announced that it had posted a
net loss of $55 million, or $(0.78) per share, versus a profit
of $143.2 million or $2.17 per share.  The Company also
announced that it was forecasting a cut in its dividend from
$0.75 per share to $0.50-$0.60 per share in Q3 2005.  In
reaction to this news, shares of Impac Mortgage fell $2.39 per
share, or 14.6%, on August 10, 2005, to close at $13.98 per
share.  Prior to these revelations, the Company's top officers
and directors sold shares of their personal Impac Mortgage stock
for $5 million in proceeds.

The true facts, which were known by each of the defendants but
concealed from the investing public during the Class Period,
were:

     (1) that the Company had no ability to achieve the
         Company's projections for Q3-Q4 2005;

     (2) that even as the Company was projecting Q3 2005 taxable
         EPS in excess of $.50, defendants knew that key metrics    
         like the rate of "prepayments" had already limited the
         Company's projected profitability and had impacted the
         Company's ability to cover its Q3 2005 dividend of   
         $.45;

     (3) that the Company failed to properly account for the
         fair value of its derivative instruments;

      (4) that the Company's margins were negatively impacted by
          the rise in short-term interest rates and, as a
          result, Impac Mortgage would not be able to sustain  
          its dividend payouts;

     (5) that the Company lacked adequate internal controls; and

     (6) that as a result of the above, the Company's Q3 and Q4
         2005 projections were grossly overstated, and equally
         false were the Company's statements concerning the
         Company's concealment of mark-to-market accounting
         Losses. which ultimately required a charge of nearly
         $100 million.

Lerach Coughlin on the Net: http://www.lerachlaw.com;William  
Lerach or Darren Robbins, Phone: 800-449-4900 or 619/231-1058;
E-mail: wsl@lerachlaw.com.


                            *********


A list of Meetings, Conferences and Seminars appears in each
Wednesday's edition of the Class Action Reporter. Submissions
via e-mail to carconf@beard.com are encouraged.

Each Friday's edition of the CAR includes a section featuring
news on asbestos-related litigation and profiles of target
asbestos defendants that, according to independent researches,
collectively face billions of dollars in asbestos-related
liabilities.


                            *********


S U B S C R I P T I O N   I N F O R M A T I O N

Class Action Reporter is a daily newsletter, co-published by
Bankruptcy Creditors' Service, Inc., Fairless Hills,
Pennsylvania, USA, and Beard Group, Inc., Frederick, Maryland
USA.   Glenn Ruel Senorin, Teena Canson and Lyndsey Resnick,
Editors.

Copyright 2006.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1525-2272.

This material is copyrighted and any commercial use, resale or
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